Monday, 28 January 2008

Well, that was exciting.

Not really, of course, but I have now moved the length of this sordid little Isle. In search of gainful and satisfying employment, we have dragged ourselves from Cornwall to Warwickshire and finally to the city of Dundee. I sincerely hope this'll prove a nice spot to sit for a while, as we're sick of moving.

A positive mark in this sense: Scotland is altogether nicer than England. The drink is better, the people are more interesting (and less English) and perhaps most importantly the countryside isn't flat. I may speak through the muffling clouds of rosy nostalgia but nontheless; Cornwall is a pleasant if uncivilised land, but most of England couldn't be more physically dull. Flat, tended, draped in pointless farms producing organically molested rapeseed or somesuch. Loathesome. At least much of Scotland has the decency to provide a dramatic backdrop to life.

So! Code at home has been erratic. Toward the end of last year I had a three week competition with a cow-orker to produce a small game, and can happily report sorta-success. Other than that, however, I found myself sucked into the usual mithering, dithering sort of code that doesn't have any real zeal, purpose or need behind it. Producing math libraries or half-conceived, half-finished projects.

Of late, however, I've become enamoured of a new language: Scala. Whilst it's depressingly fadish, I find it a pleasantly pragmatic language. It supports imperative and functional approaches to problems, has a pleasant OO feature set, and much of the clunky syntax of the Algolspawn is supported but optional. It runs on the JVM, so theoretically no porting headaches (ha!), and when compiled down to bytecode it's not nearly as molasses-slow as many contemporary languages. It's interoperable with Java - less convinced about this. On the one hand, plenty of code out there, theoretically able to help Scala out. On the other, it's all written in Java... yes, that's OK, the shudder of revulsion you felt was entirely natural.

So, my new quest is to write a Roguelike in Scala. This'll be tricky. I have little love for OpenGL, and I've seen less to reassure me in the Java libraries supposedly intended to provide functionality useful to game developers. Even the Java implementation of the Curses library for displaying good ol' ASCII appears to be, for the lack of a better word, fooked. Nontheless, even if it turns out to be the usual horrible failure, I hope to learn a bit about Scala on the way, and hopefully become a better general programmer because of it.

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